In big sky Montana. If you listen closely, you just might hear the pulse of a regional railroad that has been beating strongly for nearly a quarter of a century: The Montana Rail Link.
Rolling on over 900 miles of former Northern Pacific track through Montana, Idaho and Washington State, the MRL passes through some of the most splendid scenery the NP had to offer. MRL serves as a bridge line for BNSF Railway between Laurel, Montana and Spokane, Washington. BNSF trains make up the majority of traffic seen here, although they are operated by MRL crews.
In Part 1 of this two-part video series, we cover the First and Second Subdivisions between Jones Junction and Helena, Montana. The railroad follows the Yellowstone River west to Livingston, then up over Bozeman Pass, through Lombard Canyon and over Winston Hill before arriving at Helena. Thrill to the sight and sound of genuine 20 cylinder SD45’s shoving heavy unit trains over Bozeman Pass! Watch MRL and BNSF trains at several scenic locations in both summer and winter. Catch 125 car coal trains, grain trains, mixed manifests, locals and the special Boeing 737 train. The combination of great scenery and raw horsepower makes this an exciting video to see and hear! This program was shot in January and July of 2011.
In Part 2 we return to Helena in the dead of winter as trains prepare to do battle with Mullan Pass. A strong Canadian storm system slammed into the Rockies sending the mercury below zero while a quintet of MRL’s EMD SD70ACe’s put on a fantastic show shoving heavy trains to the summit. This is a mountain railroading at its best with 2.2% grades, numerous curves and high trestles. Shot in January and July of 2011, you will see the MRL taking on Mullan Pass in all types of weather as it climbs to the continental divide at Blossburg via the famous Mullan Tunnel. The action doesn’t stop there, as trains race west along the 3rd, 4th and 10th subdivisions through the fantastic scenery that is the hallmark of Montana. Catch trains as they follow the course of the Clark Fork River and scale high above the treetops on Evaro Hill. Our tour concludes as we head west through the Bitterroot Mountains along the banks of the Clark Fork to Sandpoint, Idaho where MRL joins BNSF’s busy “Funnel.” A great variety of trains run over the line including coal, grain, mixed manifests and MRL’s daily gas train. From perfect sunny skies, through thunderstorms and winter’s arctic chill, this is a trip to MRL country you won’t soon forget! Raw horsepower and beautiful scenery combine again for two great hours of entertainment.